Particle-level simulations of flocculation in a fiber suspension flowing through a diffuser
Journal article, 2017
We investigate flocculation in dilute suspensions of rigid, straight fibers in a decelerating flow field of a diffuser. We carry out numerical studies using a particle-level simulation technique that takes into account the fiber inertia and the non-creeping fiber-flow interactions. The fluid flow is governed by the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations with the standard k-omega eddy-viscosity turbulence model. A one-way coupling between the fibers and the flow is considered with a stochastic model for the fiber dispersion due to turbulence. The fibers interact through short-range attractive forces that cause them to aggregate into flocs when fiber-fiber collisions occur. We show that ballistic deflection of fibers greatly increases the flocculation in the diffuser. The inlet fiber kinematics and the fiber inertia are the main parameters that affect fiber flocculation in the pre-diffuser region.